Schumann: Doesn’t the image of the Queen in Venus and Adonis as a lovesick sexually aroused seducer who protests that she doesn’t have wrinkles and still has soft plump flesh and “marrow burning” contradict your description of her as being unwilling or unable to give of herself physically to a man?
Hughes: Where have I ever said that the image of Venus in Venus and Adonis was based on Elizabeth?
As Claes Shaar makes so very clear, this poem was written at the same time that Oxford was writing sonnets to the Dark Lady, who, as I’ve gone into detail to explain, was the poet and musician Emilia Bassano. The style is Shakespeare’s, which means the poem was written in his forties when Queen Elizabeth was in her sixties, hardly a figure of passionate desire. As others have pointed out, the scenario is similar to the moment in the Sonnets scenario where the Fair Youth is seduced by the Dark Lady, an event noted in both the sequences to the Youth and the Lady. That the Poet was a bystander is emphasized by how he dwells on the fact that Adonis was killed by a boar, Oxford’s totem. The boar was jealous, not enough to kill his patron, but enough to suggest it in a poem.
If Oxford did perhaps intend that the Queen see the poem as a reference to something that happened between them many years earlier when he was at the Adonis stage and she was still capable of playing the marriage card for all it was worth, the comparison to the Goddess of Love was surely meant to be flattering, with him taking the blame on himself for the fact that nothing happened! Like Oxford at seventeen, Adonis was more interested in his horse, so Venus, like the Queen, went off in a huff of doves.
PT enthusiasts take notice: nothing happened!